JAKARTA, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Powerful burst of hot ash and volcanic material from the crater of Mount Sinabung volcano in North Sumatra, Indonesia, was seen again on Saturday, a day after nearly 14,000 evacuees returned home, with three persons injured, an official said.
The 2,475-meter-high Mount Sinabung erupted three times on Saturday, spewing columns of ash about 2 km into the air and spreading hot rocks and ash over a 4.5 km radius, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster agency, said.
"Today (Saturday) eruptions took places with hurling of hot ash, hitting three people. They are now being treated at Evarina hospital in Karo district," he told Xinhua via phone.
Despite the volcanology agency had noted that the seismic activity of the volcano sagged, Sutopo said that a dangerous zone of 5 km remained in place.
A handful of villages, about 16, must be emptied, he added.
"The officials are now overseeing and preventing those from returning the zone," said Sutopo, referring to many villagers who had earlier returned to their homes.
Indonesia is enduring one of the longest series of volcano eruptions in more than 30 years, with the authorities forced to deal with a rising number of refugees in North Sumatra as more than 31,000 people have been displaced, according to the agency.
Mount Sinabung has rumbled to life since September last year after remaining quiet for 400 years. It has erupted on and off since then, but was geared up in November and December.
In one of the strongest of the latest eruptions on Dec. 31, Mount Sinabung sent ash some 7,000 km into the sky.
Mount Sinabung is among the 129 active volcanoes in the vast archipelago country, which is prone to seismic upheaval as it sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire encircling the Pacific Ocean.